THE HIGHLAND DESTINATION PROVIDES THE PERFECT GO-TO PLACE FOR QUICK BUT DIVINE FOOD AND WELLNESS HAVENS
With beautiful pine tree-studded green hills, pleasantly cool climate, and awe-inspiring views of Taal Volcano’s caldera, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to think that Tagaytay City could be the Promised Land.
Tagaytay has been a favored destination for the faithful of various devotions, thanks to the city’s tranquil atmosphere. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) built their seminary in Tagaytay in 1963 and the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration or the Pink Sisters are arguably some of the city’s more well-known residents. In addition to religious orders, spiritual organizations like the Brahma Kumaris have also taken root here.
The city’s stunning vistas and cool, fresh breeze makes for a quick getaway from the metro’s exasperating traffic and air pollution. Vic Fernandez of the Tagaytay Tourism Council says, “People come up to unwind and to find their peace. Tagaytay has been a haven for tranquility.”
Weekenders come in droves to experience Tagaytay’s natural beauty, staying in bed-andbreakfast places like 8 Suites or The Cliffhouse; indulging in various wellness centers like Nurture Spa Village; visiting family-friendly attractions like Paradizoo. Fernandez recalls an “event” that happened in Christmas 2013, “ More than a million people came to the Sky Ranch. We had to provide additional parking.”
Although people have gone to Tagaytay for years, the city’s rise as a convenient getaway began around the 1990s, when Manileños took notice of the city after Baguio was recovering from the devastating July 1990 earthquake. Lani Diesta, also of the Tourism Council of Tagaytay, looks back, “’Yung challenge naming dun, parang nabigla kami. Tahimik kami tapos biglang people are coming in.”
With vacationers now coming by the multitudes, this challenge was ably met by the citizens, led by then mayor and current MMDA chairman, Francis Tolentino, whose policies towards public safety, environmental preservation, and character-development have contributed heavily into creating the Tagaytay we now know.
Today, the area plays host to various hotels, restaurants, and entertainment facilities catering to any budget. Visitors and locals can enjoy good food and accommodations, while the city’s amazing views, clean environment and peaceful and secure surroundings are maintained.
Nowadays, popular chains like Starbucks and JT’s Manukan Grille have found their home in Tagaytay, just as homegrown establishments like Bag of Beans and Antonio’s Garden have done.
The city joined the International Association of Character Cities (IACC) in the year 2000 and has been actively integrating the association’s thrusts into the city’s policies. As a character city, Tagaytay’s government leaders, civic organizations and religious organizations collaborate to create a community rooted in the values of trust, communication, efficiency, and good leadership.
Fernandez claims, “I can go to any public office, sit down with the department head, and air my concern. During our council meetings, our chief of police gives a talk on our present crime rate and security so that everybody will be involved in what’s happening.”
Citizens get a say on what happens and having this sense of ownership allows them to act responsibly for the betterment of Tagaytay. Diesta shares, “We’ve been planting pine trees in Tagaytay. Tapos bawal ang mga billboards. Bawal magpako sa puno. Bawal maglagay ng signages sa posts.”
Entrepreneurs, too, play their part in making Tagaytay a better place by creating jobs. Companies primarily hire their employees from nearby communities. Sourcing ingredients and materials locally, as well as teaching sustainability, are some things that many Tagaytay-based companies are now encouraging.
Over the past five years or so, large-scale developers like Robinson’s, SMDC, Ayala Land, and Filinvest have been developing properties in Tagaytay.
At the same time, smaller businesses like restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts are also popping up, likely all spurred by the opportunities presented by the local government, and the area’s ideal weather and proximity to Manila. A more personal touch has made Tagaytay’s more popular restos like Antonio’s, Dayrit’s, and Papagayo flourish. “The owners would sit beside you and ask you about their food and service,” says Fernandez.
Peak seasons have also evolved in Tagaytay. Once considered a mere summer destination and a way to escape the Manila heat, Tagaytay has become a popular location for company team-building sessions in the months of October to November. Throngs of pilgrims also come during Holy Week to do the Visita Iglesia in the many churches around the area.
But it’s not just investors and jobseekers who may find their place in Tagaytay. The city has a small but growing community of expatriates such as Germans, Americans, and Swiss, as well as some local retirees from Manila and other places in the Philippines.
With more tourists and businesses coming in, there is no doubt that Tagaytay will continue to see growth over the coming years. Diesta says, “We still would like to live a simple rural setting yet urban –where everything else is accessible. We still would like to keep it simple here.”
It’s an ideal that sounds as close to heaven as you can get on Earth, with hard-working people striving to maintain the balance.
TOP 5 TAGAYTAY PICKS
1. Restaurant Verbena
Located within the premises of Discovery's Country Suites, the best table for this fine-dining experience may be on the balcony overlooking a splendid view of Taal Lake.
Restaurant Verbena is located at Country Suites, Discovery Tagaytay, 300 Calamba Road, San Jose, City of Tagaytay.
Call (046) 413-4567 for inquiries and reservations.
Chef Tonyboy Escalante's jewel is the brightest gem in the Tagaytay dining scene. Combining a passion for innovation and exacting standards for fine-dining service, it's consistently rated as one of the country's best restaurants.
Antonio’s is located at Purok 138, Barangay Neogan, Luksuhin-Mangas Road, Alfonso, Tagaytay City 4120.
Contact 0918-899-2866 for reservations.
A hot piping bowl of beef marrow stew or bulalo is a must on a chilly day when dining on the ridge. Leslie’s has the best balance when it comes to price and flavor. Indeed, those who dawdle about going here may be left steaming in the eatery's large, but often packed parking lot, as more decisive diners enjoy marrow-warming sustenance.
Leslie’s is located at Aguinaldo Highway Crossing, TagaytayCity, Cavite. Call (046) 413-1065 for inquiries.
4. The T House
Better known as a boutique hotel, the menu at their dining outlet offers choices that span from breakfast meals, filling starters and appetizers as well as main entrees
For inquiries and reservations
Sun: +63922-8THouse / +63922-8846-875
Manila Landline: (02)788-7356 / (02)788-7354
Address: 3195 Calamba Road, Tagaytay City, Philippines
5. The Dining Room by Gourmet
The Dining Room is an offshoot of Gourmet Farms, specializing in salads using freshly harvested lettuce and other greens. It also offers various salads and appetizers, pizza and pasta, beverages, main dishes and desserts.
Address: Km. 52, Aguinaldo Highway, Buho,
Silang Cavite, Philippines
Phone: (046) 865.1064 Look for Fernan or Albert